Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Towards making energy available and affordable to all and sundry

A recent study by the International Centre for Energy and Environmental Development ICEED has called on the Federal Government to put a policy in place establish a national cooking energy programme and new national rural electrification programme under the power sector reform. Funding for rural electrification and cooking energy for poor people has declined over the years, and called on the Federal Government to Shown that without a new national programme on rural electrification and clean energy stoves the number of poor people in Nigeria will grow exponentially. The Executive Director of ICEED Mr. Ewah Eleri made this known recently during a programme, on Financing Pro-Poor Energy Access in Nigeria. Mr. Eleri said lack of clean energy for cooking in rural communities has continued to increase the level of deforestation in the country as rural dwellers depend largely on firewood for cooking. He noted that “ICEED and its partners are on a campaign that focuses on the silent energy crisis and the silent energy crisis is that of household not having access to save and affordable cooking energy. We have a situation where government has no plans and programmes or policies on cooking energy”. This is not acceptable, he added.

The over dependence of rural dwellers on firewood for cooking energy has continued to increase the level of deforestation in Northern Nigeria. According to a World Bank report, Nigeria has the largest number of death due to indoor air pollution from cooking with firewood. Mr. Eleri explained that the pro-poor energy financing campaign is calling on the Federal Government to provide adequate budget lines to expand rural electrification, significant resources to different agencies of government in the 2013 budget. Furthermore, he pointed out that Nigeria export more gas than is being used in the country. Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest exporters of cooking gas but the usage is poor at home due to poor distribution channel, lack of awareness about proper use of gas cylinders that have created fear and apathy and also high upfront cost of cylinders. The Federal Government should enlighten the people about safe usage of gas cylinders; it should also put in place standard safety measures and regulations and also subsidize the price of cylinders. According to him, Lagos state government has started that and the Federal Government can follow suit. The use of cooking gas should be encouraged by making available smaller mass of cylinders because not everyone can afford the 5kg gas cylinders. In line with what has been done with recharge cards, where you can purchase as low as #100 to #1,500. Cooking gas is environment friendly.

The Federal Government should stop the flaring of gas in the country and utilize it for household energy use for cooking. Mr. Eleri believes that the Vision 20:20, Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and the transformation agenda of the present administration would be far from been achieved if the energy poverty in the country is not aggressively tackled with the right programmes and policies in place.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


When the Federal Government announced that the third mainland bridge would be closed to traffic for another round of maintenance that is to last five months i.e. July –November 2012, Lagos residents who work and live on the Lagos Island and its environs had severe agitation over anticipated hardship. The closure of the third mainland bridge can be used by the Lagos State Government to once again promote the Green-Lagos initiative intended to encourage Lagosians to make use of the BRT buses. Therefore there is urgent need for the State government to increase the number of these buses on the road. It has been observed that the number of cars plying the central business district on Lagos Island in recent times has reduced since the commencement of the third mainland bridge maintenance as well as traffic gridlock in the area and this saves people time that would have been lost due to traffic. However, the fares charged by ferry operators have been on the increase and the problem of overloading the vessels is also another course of concern. Observers are of the opinion that the abundant inland waters in Lagos should be utilized by the State Government for as viable alternative means of transportation. Water hyacinth on the water ways should be cleared to enhance movement of boats and ferries. Though the services of the BRT buses are not helping the situation. Recently at Oshodi bus stop, passengers were stranded for hours waiting for buses to convey them to the Island.

During the fourth Lagos State Climate Change Conference held in April, the General Manager of the Lagos State Environment Protection Agency LASEPA Engineer Ashabi recommended car-pooling as a means of reducing carbon emission in the State. Car-pooling involves the use of a vehicle by more than one occupant going towards the same direction. This reduces the number of vehicles on the roads thereby reducing carbon emission from these cars and increasing the life span of the roads and improving the air quality. I have observed that Lagosians who live on the mainland but work on the Island have gradually started car-pooling. This help save cost of transportation for the people involved and they could rotate cars from one person to another to reduce the use of a particular car all through. “When you decide to drive to the office in the morning, the traffic on the other alternative routes are so much that your fuel will finish while you are in traffic” said Mrs. Chioma Okafor who work in a private company in Victoria Island. “What I do these days is to follow my neighbors in their cars to CMS and enter a taxi from there to the office and same thing when returning home after work”.  Mutiu Adeniran who lives in Shomolu but work with a bank on the Island said the closure of the third mainland bridge has changed his work schedule. “I no longer drive in my car to the office on the Island but make use of the BRT buses, which saves me some money but the government needs to do something about the state of those buses. They are now looking like molue buses where Fela said forty-nine seating ninety-nine standing”, he explained.

Lagos Island host most of the business interest of the State as multi-national companies, banks and markets are all located there. When the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) scheme was launched under the Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration, the aim was to provide a safe, fast and cheaper means of transportation for the ever increasing Lagos populace. Also it was assumed that with a dedicated lane for the BRT buses, they would not be caught up in the usual early morning traffic rush. According to Governor Fashola “we wanted a culture where Lagosians would park their cars, board a BRT bus to work and pick their cars at the end of the day. This was why some BRT bus stations were built with car park facilities like in Moshalasi and Ketu BRT Park. Through the use of BRT bus it was expected that carbon emission would be reduced as this contribute to global warming and result in climate change. The State Government decided to add more bus schemes like the Lag Buses and franchise bus services with more routes across the State. Over the years the BRT buses had become dilapidated with the buses always crowded while the Lag buses still maintained its decent look.

The third mainland bridge was constructed in 1990 under the military administration of General Ibrahim Babaginda and it is believed to be the longest bridge in Africa. The bridge connects the Lagos mainland starting from the Ojota end of the default toll-gate to Obalende. Most Lagosians use the bridge to connect the Lagos Island and its environs which is the central business district of the old Lagos. The State Government can inculcate the “green transport idea” in Lagosians by improving transportation on land and sea, make more profit and still safe the environment as the rate of carbon emission would reduce.